Sunday 8th November, 2015

Welcome to everyone joining us for the Op-Shop Community gathering today. We hope you will feel like this is a place to belong and that you will share with us especially, the joy of belonging to Jesus Christ.

I’ve included (below) an excerpt from the Verge Network’s (Austin, Texas) latest blog entitled, “ A Hidden Barrier to Mission & Discipleship”, which speaks something into our current model of gathering on Sundays.

Consumers, simply speaking, are people who purchase goods and services to meet a perceived need. In the most basic of forms, consumption is necessary to human existence. Each and every one of us is a consumer of something. But what happens when consumption goes from necessity to pleasure, from provision to identity?

[If we’re not carefull], we can define ourselves by what we buy. What formerly met a basic need has become an identity, the lens through which we see the world. Food becomes a means of comfort. Clothing becomes a status symbol. Shelter becomes a palace of entertainment. . . . 

 . . . Not to oversimplify, but the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. Step one is realizing we have a problem: a desire to satiate our appetite for selfish benefit. We must fight that desire and beg God to help us seek the welfare of others. What if we ditch expecting to have “our needs met” in community and embrace an expectation of blessing our brothers and sisters in Christ? 

I have a hunch that we’d look a lot more like this:

[26] What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. (1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV) . . .  

 . . . As a new kind of people, defined by God’s Word and empowered by His Spirit to proclaim the gospel of Jesus, we are no longer consumers. Our Word-centred, gospel-centred community is built on sacrificially meeting the needs of others – love one another, honour one another, bear one another’s burdens, teach and admonish one another. 

A biblical community consumes the Word of God and contributes that precious Word to the lives of one another. 

What if we aimed for contribution, not consumption?

Last week’s Playgroup Community was yet another breakthrough for St Matt’s this year as we have sought to serve the needs of others, rather than ourselves. It was wonderful to see young families enjoying themselves in the freedom that environment creates – and to hear testimony of God at work in a number of people’s lives.

It is an honour and privilege to serve this community at St Matt’s. God bless,  Ian.